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What Will Marketing Look Like in a World Without Third-Party Cookies?

November 22, 2022
Table of Contents

As expected, Google delayed their deprecation of cookies (again). Fortunately, most of the market is moving beyond cookies, so the perceived impact is less doom and gloom and more of an inevitable nuisance. Despite the additional time with cookies, clever marketers should continue to invest in modern measurement and data integrity best practices. The pendulum has swung away from deterministic, one-to-one attributable interactions, and toward incremental outcome-based relationships.

How will it impact marketing and advertising?

Marketing is still driven by where people consume media; that’s not likely to change any time soon – although, with new emerging channels like TikTok gaining dominance, attention is continuing to fragment. The best strategy and creative in the world won’t do anything for your business if nobody sees it, so audience attention is still the primary source of spend. 

Many performance channels that have long relied on attribution will struggle to prove their worth, and new measurement standards will become best practice. Focusing on incrementality and outcome-based buying (whether through testing or statistical modeling) will become prevalent even for smaller brands.

New technologies and workarounds will likely come and go (such as UID2, Google’s new “PAIR” system, or web3 blockchain tracking). All a brand should care about is if its marketing investment made a material impact on its business. Ongoing regulation and technology shifts (such as iOS16’s even more advanced privacy protection) will raise the walls of the Walled Gardens, and deepen the reliance on first-party data. 

What are the challenges of first-party marketing?

The main challenge of first-party data is actually collecting it, and a close second is taking advantage of it. The reality is that most brands incorrectly estimate the loyalty and how long it takes for a customer to return (sometimes woefully under or over). 

Many e-commerce brands trickle their follow-up emails over the subsequent months after a customer’s first purchase. In reality, the most likely time a first-time customer becomes a repeat buyer is within the 30 days after receiving their shipment (when they are happiest and the brand is freshest in their mind). I can’t tell you how many businesses I’ve seen wait 90 days before they send an upsell or a “you might also like” email. 

Beyond just the nuts and bolts of convincing someone to give you their data, there are still the issues of organizing it, analyzing it, and leveraging it. The rise of CDPs is a good thing, especially for businesses with a high lifetime value per customer (think travel, high-end fashion, B2B, and so on). Tools like Snowflake used to be reserved for the elite. Now they’re table stakes, which can be an expensive technological desk ornament if not deployed correctly. 

How are brands preparing for the inevitable day when third-party cookies are gone?

Outside of better first-party data collection, marketers will have to rely more on modeling and experimentation to understand the true incremental impact of their marketing. 

Need help with revising your post-cookie strategy for digital marketing? Get in touch here.

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